AN ODIHAM man has been named Hero of the Year for his valiant efforts during the pandemic to ensure no child was left behind when it came to learning.

David Harper set up Laptops for Learning where he sought equipment for school children to enable them to keep up with their studies while being confided to their homes during the national lockdowns.

At a ceremony on Thursday night, hosted by Falklands war hero Simon Weston and Gazette publisher Bill Browne, he was awarded the title.

Marena Hyatt nominated him and she said he is constantly on the lookout for laptops which he asks the community to donate in any condition.

He then spends hours refurbishing and making them good for children who are in need of technology and working at home.

These children may need laptops during lockdown or for homework or because they are not able to get into school for different reasons.

Marena said: “So far this year he has helped over 60 children! I feel he really deserves recognition for this amazing effort – he really is an angel and the smiles on the children’s faces when they receive a laptop of their own is incredible. He asks for nothing at all but just wants to see these children happy and able to learn.”

Whitchurch carers at Berehill House won Medical Heroes of the Year, honouring their gruelling dedication to looking after the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic.

The award, sponsored by Southampton Hospitals Charity, paid tribute to the fortitude of staff following a complete lockdown of their premises due to the virus.

Their manager Michelle Hart described how frightening it was: “Being a care worker has always been a very challenging job, but in March 2020 we had no idea of how much more challenging it would become.

“No one really knew too much about Covid 19, when suddenly we were in a situation where one of our residents with no obvious symptoms was rushed to hospital and we were subsequently told a few hours later he was Covid positive.

“Staff were petrified, we cried, we called our families and said we would not be home. At that very moment we did not know how long we would be there but we were committed to doing it.

“Thankfully, clearer support came through and we were able to return to our homes and our own loved ones. But Not one day has gone past where staff have not gone over and above their job description during this pandemic.

“We tried so hard to stay in touch with families. Weekly updates, using our own technology to FaceTime and WhatsApp, we raised nearly £5,000 for a 32” tablet to enable our residents to see their families better on video.

“We never let a resident pass away alone. If we had agency staff on duty, one or more of us would stay to ensure our residents had that familiar face around at their most vulnerable time. Many families thought we were lucky we could still go home or still do the weekly shop. What they didn’t see was that many of us were banned from our own families, one carer lost both parents during the pandemic and still came to work.”

  • Read more about these incredible heroes and all the winners in our special supplement only inside this week's Gazette, out tomorrow!